First posted on 06 February 2009. Last updated on 27 September 2013.
The game is available at GamersGate.
There are games that are released without much fanfare but are discovered later by gamers who play them out of curiosity. Most gamers wrongly dismiss these hidden gems as fluff and never make an effort to try them out. When the curious gamer decides to take a chance and play, a surprised discovery is made and the gamer ends up enjoying the game. This time, the curious gamer is myself and the game is So Blonde.
The game's protagonist is Sunny Blonde, a beautiful and rich teenager who is spoiled rotten by her parents. Sunny is on a cruise with her parents who are celebrating their wedding anniversary. She is complaining about how awful the trip is to a guy she has just met on the ship who is more interested in her body than her whiny complaints. Suddenly, the ship gets struck by lightning, knocking off a piece of the ship and also her overboard. Miraculously, Sunny lands unharmed but unconscious in an inflatable life raft, which then shipwrecks on a remote island where her adventure begins.
Of course, the island does not have the luxuries that Sunny is used to have in her privileged life. The inhabitants of the island also do not know what to make of her, especially when Sunny shows her frustration after she finds out that they have never even heard of a cell phone or a mall. Sunny decides that she must use her wits and charisma to get off this island. Though Sunny appears to be a typical, dumb blond, she soon manages to charm the inhabitants of the island with her surprising intellect that even surprises herself at times.
Playing So Blonde brings back memories of why I love adventure games so much. The art style pays homage to the classic point-and-click adventures from LucasArts and Sierra of yesteryears. The textures and sceneries are gorgeous. The tropical ambiance music plays discretely in the background, even though it gets repetitive after a while. The puzzles are typical of the genre—challenging but not impossible.
The game is separated into chapters. Each begins and ends with cut scenes that are made up of panels that resemble a graphic novel. Other adventure games have used this style to limit the length of the cut scenes and reduce unnecessary animations. Whether this is done for artistic value or to reduce production costs in So Blonde is unclear.
A facet of the game mechanic that I find interesting is the cyclic day and night change that occurs as the game progresses onward. I find this to be unusual for a point-and-click adventure game. I may have enjoyed like playing the nighttime scenes better if they last longer than they have. Nonetheless, the graphics in the nighttime are just as beautiful as those in the daytime.
The player takes control of not only Sunny but also 2 other characters in the game. This is necessary in order to complete certain quests. The first character is Max, Sunny's pet. The hairy companion is capable of going places where Sunny cannot. The other character is Juan, the mayor. I wish that these characters are used more creatively as a change of pace for the game, though both seem to serve their purpose well without taking too much attention away from Sunny (which she no doubt will have none of it!).
The voiceovers for all the characters are professionally done. They sound neither cheesy nor like simply reading from a script. The actors who provide the voices are convincing as to who their characters are. The dialog is well written and is definitely worth a listening. I have played other games where the characters' voices are so badly done or ridiculous that make the game not worth playing. I am pleased to see that So Blonde does not do that. Steve Ince, the writer, has penned a great and humorous story for the game.
So Blonde includes a few mini games that are optional to play. For each mini game, the player is given the option of playing it or click on the Auto-Win option to bypass it. When the player chooses to play and wins, the player gets rewarded with a crowd cheering. I find it to be amusing that the crowd boos whenever I choose not to play. That kind of humor is pervasive throughout the game. The blonde/brunet joke duel that Sunny has with the female pirate captain is hilarious. It reminds me of the humor in LucasArts' Monkey Island series.
The title may have given some adventure fans second thoughts about trying the game out, but So Blonde is a delightful game that brings back fond memories of point-and-click adventure games of the past. It is my hope that the commercial success of this game will inspire other adventure game developers and publishers to return to their roots. For gamers who enjoy playing classic adaptation of the adventure genre, So Blonde is a worthy title to be added to the playlist.